Saturday, February 7, 2015

Two Days, One Night (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Two Days, One Night

The Belgian Dardenne brothers have scored a hit with "Two Days, One Night" which is tense and constricting, unfolding and seeming to pulse like a horror film, akin to Roman Polanski.

Marion Cotillard stars as Sandra, a Belgian woman who works at a solar energy plant. One day she wakes drowsily to find out that her job is in question. Unknown to her, a vote was held, brought about by superior Jean-Marc (Oliver Gourmet) who tells the crew that they will get a bonus if Sandra is laid off, as she is the so called "weakest link." Understandably, she is shaken and sick by the news. Through the course of the story, it comes to light that Sandra battles with clinical depression and is under constant threat of being undermined in skill and importance.

She resolves to journey house to house, in a journey to overturn the vote and have another ballot.

Marion Cotillard is wonderful here, clearly deserving of her Best Actress Oscar Nomination. She is a mass of quivering muscle, a tight and grooved interpretation of a Kathe Kollwitz woodcut. Her very forehead ripples with pain and ache.

Each house-visit is a guilty step even though Sandra has done nothing at all to deserve her circumstance. Every face pities and accuses. Only her husband Manu (Fabrizio Rongione) supports her and even he grows distant by the worry, anxiety and need.

In one scene, Sandra pleads her case which enrages a co-worker and causes him to strike an innocent colleague.  As he falls unconscious. Sandra grows increasingly anxious and guilty as she becomes the unwitting conjurer of domestic violence and ill-will.

In her red bow tie shirt, she is a spool of maternal twine, falling beyond repair, her face a rictus of sensitivity and care.

Her friend Anne (Christelle Cornil) leaves her husband over the situation.

Although a noose tightly closes in claustrophobia and distrust, especially when Sandra shuts the coffin-like workplace door, the events in "Two Days, One Night" are no "Black Swan" scare-fest, but very plausible.

The predicament slowly unfolds with one meeting after the other, with all encounters springing discontent without warning.

This film is the most vivid interpretation of Kafka that I have found. Sandra's last seen step over the asphalt reveals a rip in the black road, a single cement scar.

Creepily, the sight will have you wishing for the more fantastical fictions of Gregor Samsa, rather than the fears and arbitrary dramas of life itself.

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